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Doctors strike: Ikpeazu not to blame – PDP *NMA should tell Abia people the truth

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It is either the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association should be bold enough to tell the people of Abia State the whole truth about how they came to the current strike or the citizens should force it out of them by asking them the relevant questions.

This was the position to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in the state, as it weighed into the issue, absolving the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu of blame, while accusing the leadership of the association of being influenced from outside, rather than the core issues.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu, Director of Strategic Engagement, Abia State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP Campaign Council (PDP-CC), who articulated this on Saturday called on the people of the state to demand a factual response from the NMA on the lingering dispute between doctors and the state government.

Okiyi-Kalu who was speaking on the demand by doctors under the Hospital Management Board (HMB) to be paid 13 months arrears and that of Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) counterpart for 22 months arrears said that facts have shown that since the inception of the Dr Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration in 2015 the medical doctors have been on strike for 35 months.

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He questioned the moral right the doctors have to demand such payments, when facts and figures at the disposal of the government, which according to him were listed undisputably by the state Commissioner for Information, Eze Chikamnayo show that they do not merit what they are demanding.

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The party boss, urged the Abia people to eschew all forms of political gimmicks and question some abnormalities in the Abia health sector causing the conflict stressing that every conflict should end in permanent solutions to society’s challenges including the ongoing one between Abia Government and NMA.

“Naturally, because of the important role played by medical doctors in the health management chain, it is expected that popular sentiments will be in support of the striking doctors and weighed against the government more so when arrowheads of the strike timed it to coincide with the forthcoming general elections that some desperate opposition politicians are ready to attempt to win by hook or crook.

“But the question to ask is if those medical doctors actually worked for the months of arrears they are demanding payment for or should pay the government and people of Abia State for receiving more salary than they have worked for.”

Okiyi-Kalu, who traced the root of the current wage management challenge in HMB and ABSUTH to 2015 a meeting between Ikpeazu who was new in office and management and union leaders from ABSUTH at the government house in Umuahia, where the doctors implored the new governor to pay off the arrears of salary owed them, promising that from that point, they would make enough revenue to fund their regular salary payment.

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Okiyi-Kalu, who said that he was physically present at the meeting, narrated how the doctors also requested support with more modern equipment for their operations and later in the life of the administration asked for ABSUTH road to be fixed, which according to him were all granted by the governor.

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“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu went ahead to pay them 11 months salary arrears in one tranche that same year. For those medical doctors earning N500,000/month, they received an alert of N5, 500,000.00 in one day per person.

“Two months after receiving the jumbo alert, the management of ABSUTH and some of the union leaders returned to the governor to plead that they be given subventions to continue paying salary while they adjust operationally to build on their IGR and commence running independently. Governor Ikpeazu obliged them again.

“Interestingly, shortly after the jumbo pay by the government, many of those medical doctors “invested” the money on improving their private clinics or renting and equipping new clinics. And as they ensured that their personal businesses were booming, ABSUTH’s fortunes continued to depreciate.

“The painful part of the whole thing was that despite the governor’s earlier efforts, privates clinics of doctors were booming and rather than generate more revenue to at least pay themselves, their IGR continued to dwindle from what it was in 2015 till date, as they racked up 35 months of strike without work yet are making demands that the government must pay them for those months they were on strike.”

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Alleging a political undertone in what the NMA and HMB were doing currently saying, he added: “I personally do not want to engage on issues of political motivation for labour recalcitrance at this time, even though I can personally attest to at least three executive members of Abia NMA attending a political rally in Aba organised by an opposition party. I simply want to invite Abians to dispassionately discuss this issue of taking a salary for work not done and still demanding more while at the same time strengthening your private clinic.”

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Obi: Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, not now, may take 20-30 years

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the February 25, 2023 election on Monday, raised issues with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway awarded by the Federal Government to Hitech Construction, at the whopping amount of N13trillion, saying such a gigantic road project was not needed now at a time most of the Federal roads across the country are death-traps.

Obi, former Governor Peter Obi, who broke his silence for the first time over the project, since the news was first broken that the Federal Government had since awarded the contract, while acknowledging its potential benefits, expressed serious concerns about its pricing and raised questions regarding the timing and prioritization in the current Nigerian situation.

The LP boss, who highlighted the pressing issue of numerous uncompleted roads across the country, emphasising their role in economic growth and regional connectivity, maintained that the government should invest such huge resources to deal with the various roads across the country which were in various stages of disrepair, rather than plunging it into one road.

He listed critical roads in various zones, many of which have been under construction for several years due to poor funding and planning to include:

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  1. NORTH-WEST Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, – Sokoto – Funtua – Zaria Road, Kano – Hadejia Road, Kano – Katsina Road , Zaria – Funtua – Shema – Tsafe – Gusau – Talata – Mafara – Sokoto Road , Kano – Kwanar – Danja – Hadejia Road
  2. NORTH-EAST Kano – Damaturu – Maiduguri Road – Mubi – Maiduguri Road, Nguru – Gashua – Bayamari Road, Gombe – Biu – Numan Road, Dikwa – Marte – Monguno Road, Potiskum – Fika – Bajoga – Gombe – Biu Road, Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Tongue Road, Tumu – Pindiga – Kashere – Bashar – Wase – Wamba – Nassarawa Road.
  3. NORTH-CENTRAL Abuja – Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin Road, Ilorin – Jebba Road, Kabba – Omuaran Road, Suleja – Minna Road, Makurdi – Gboko – Yandev – Katsina-Ala Road, Buruku Bridge across Katsina River.
  4. SOUTH-WEST Lagos – Badagry Road, Ibadan – Ife – Ilesha – Osogbo Road, Itoikin – Ijebu Ode – Ibadan Road, Ibadan – Ilorin – Jebba – Mokwa – Bokani Junction Road, Abeokuta – Ibadan Road, Ikorodu – Shagamu Road, Ado – Igede – Aramoko – Itawure Road, Ajasse Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Border Road.
  5. SOUTH-EAST: 9th Mile – Oturkpo -Makurdi Road, Enugu – Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha – Awka — Enugu Road, Onitsha – Owerri – Umuahia Road, Bende – Arochukwu – Ohafia Road, Okigwe – Afikpo Road, Nsukka – Obollo Afor – Ehamafu – Nkalagu Road, Oba – Nnewi – Okija Road.
  6. SOUTH-SOUTH: Benin – Sapele – Warri Road, East – West Road, (Warri – Kaiama – Ahoada – Port Harcourt – Eket – Oron) Yenegoa Road, Junction – Kolo – Otuoke Road, Sapele – Agbor – Ewu Road, Benin – Akure – Ore – Ife Road, Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri Road, Jattau – Fugar – Agenebode Road, Bodo – Bonny Road with Bridge across Opobo Channel, Port Harcourt – Onne Road, Agbor – Sakpoba – Ogharefe Road, Odukpani Junction – Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Umuahia Road.
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With the Federal Ministry of Works allocating a capital budget of N892 billion for 2024, in addition to funding from multilateral loan projects and other sources, Obi questioned the wisdom of embarking on another massive project that may not be completed for the next 20 or 30 years.

He warned against exacerbating the problem of abandoned, incomplete projects that do not contribute to economic growth, urging the prioritisation of existing uncompleted projects, while emphasising the need to allocate resources towards repairing and completing vital infrastructure.

The former governor, who stressed the importance of focusing on the urgent needs of the people and ensuring that investments serve the collective good of the nation, advocated for prioritising the completion and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure over embarking on colossal new projects with uncertain completion timelines, adding that fiscal discipline and strategic prioritisation in addressing the country’s infrastructure challenges, must be paramount to leaders of the country.

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Fubara, Rivers assembly return to trenches! Lawmakers override gov on LG laws

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The seemingly unabating schism between Siminalayi Fubara, Governor and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, assumed another stage on Monday, with the lawmakers deciding to pass the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor,

The Assembly, in apparent defiance of the state High Court’s order directing the status quo on the issue of elongating the tenure of elected local government officials, which formed part of the amendment, went ahead to screen as well as confirm the chairman and other members of the Assembly Service Commission in the spirit of the new law.

Martins Wachukwu, spokesman of Martin Amaewhule, Speaker of the assembly, conveying the development in a statement, said the lawmakers made the decision at its 159th Legislative sitting held at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt, which has since served as their sitting venue since the demolition of the main House of Assembly quarters by Fubara, last year.

Stating that Fubara declined assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill initially passed into law on March 13, 2024, by the House, the statement, said the lawmakers were bent on performing their constitutional duties and therefore decided to override the governor’s decision on the matter by a two-thirds majority.

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The statement read: “Determined to perform its Constitutional duties, the Bill was represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Major Jack and debated upon by Members. Thereafter, the House in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, which empowers the House to override the Governor, where he withholds his assent; the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule put the question, and with a two-thirds majority vote, the House agreed to override the Governor and passed the Bill into Law.”

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In another development, the House screened and confirmed nominees for the position of Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission, including: Sampson Worlu as Chairman, Abinye Blessing Pepple, Blessing Belema Derefaka, Gbaranen Robinson, and Dorcas Amos as Members.

The statement recalled that on March 22, 2024, the House passed the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill into Law, wherein the House donated back to itself the power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission.

The statement added: “On a sad note, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amaewhule, announced the demise of Mr Lucky Amadi, the husband of the honourable Member for Obio/Akpor Constituency II, Hon. Emilia Lucky Amadi, and stated that Members would pay a condolence visit to their colleague.”

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BREAKING: Five days after sacking Ganduje, Kano judge reverses self

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Justice Usman Mallam Na’Abba, of the Kano State High Court, on Monday, reversed himself five days after making an order barring Abdullahi Ganduje National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from parading himself or performing any official function in that capacity.

In vacating the order made ex-parte, following a plea by Haladu Gwanjo and Laminu Sani Barguma, who claimed to be the Chairman and Secretary of the APC Ganduje Ward in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of the state, for the suspension of the former Governor of the state from his present job, Na’Abba said he relied on fresh arguments made on the matter.

The fresh applications were brought by Glory Adah, a litigation secretary at the law firm representing the APC boss in a motion ex-parte, accompanied by a 27-paragraph affidavit in support, and a written address dated April 22nd, countering the grounds of his previous orders.

Na’Abba, who adjourned the case to April 30 for the hearing, said: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted staying the execution of the order of interim injunction contained in the ruling of this court delivered on 17h April 2024 directing parties to maintain status quo ante as at the 15th day of April 2024 in relation to the suspension of the 4th respondent/applicant from the 1st respondent by the Ganduje Ward Executive Committee pending the hearing and determination of the 4th respondent/applicant motion on notice.”

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